Thursday, April 14, 2016

Is a New Kind of Gnosticism Creeping In?

The Bear hasn't fleshed this out yet, but let him share a thought with you and see what you think.

The Church has always seen mortal sin as a toggle switch. You're either in it, or you've gone to confession and you're in a state of grace. It may seem odd that God, from His timeless perspective, chooses to handle it that way, but, on the other hand, it has the virtue of certainty for creatures stuck in time. It also should keep us on our toes, since we "do not know the time nor hour."

The Bear detects a change in this. The Church seems to be moving toward an "evolutionary" view of sin. "Sin" is a failure to meet an ideal, against which we engage in a lifelong struggle to become better people. The guilt may actually be detached from the act entirely without sacramental confession or even amendment as long as we "learn from our past mistakes." The Bear has seen this trend everywhere from the confessional to the Pope's latest apostolic exhortation on the family and surrounding hoopla.

This is not Catholic. It might be a "therapeutic model." But the Bear sees traces of ancient heresies. There is a persistent current of occultism that goes all the way back to Valentius (d. 160) who almost became pope, to Plotinus, and, in his tradition, the Neoplatonists. Let's call today's version it a "soft" Gnosticism. Here's why.

Common to what we have already seen in strains of the Western Mystery Tradition, which the Bear introduced with Valentin Tomberg's Meditations on the Tarot, is the idea that the soul is trapped in matter, and must make its way back to God. There is no sin, per se, just evolution, and even our "mistakes" unfailingly take us closer to our goal. Incidentally, of course there is no eternal Hell, which is another, sometimes explicit, feature of the new thinking.

When you take two people living in an objective state of adultery and, through "pastoral discernment," side-step the guilt through some ad hoc process of self-awareness counseling, while never requiring them to do anything at all about the "matter" of the sin, the Bear cannot recognize this as Catholic. It is, however, perfectly consistent with the belief that the soul is in a constant state of "evolution" and there is no real sin, merely learning experiences along the path of return.

Such an idea unhinges the entire Christian religion, of course. Jesus becomes a figure of love and acceptance, not a sacrifice to save us from our sins. Mercy is not the unmerited, gratuitous forgiveness of sin, as advertised, but is actually the simple recognition that humans make mistakes, and grow.

If you haven't caught on to this yet, don't feel bad. Bears can smell a fire before it starts to burn, or so the song goes. And you pick up a lot of strange knowledge in 1300 years.


  1. Your central question, concerning the "evolution of a soul trapped in matter making its way back to God", sounds very much like Bhuddism. I think the Catholic Church is infected with it. It is the central cause of current contention imo.

    When I first entered the Church, I saw this clearly in RCIA. I was initially confused by this at the time, taking what they taught as Catholic truth, but I was pretty savvy about these things and I knew Eastern Mysticism when I saw it. I was just a Protestant wannabe Catholic after all, but I knew THAT wasn't right. We (wifey and I) unleashed chaos upon that class with some hard questions and ultimately left to a more traditional Parish (rather than walk away completely, which almost happened).

    I believe God creates each human being as if he were Adam himself, infinitely important on his own merits and answerable personally to God for everything. He will be judged alone before the whole universe. Each sin and each act of righteousness or penance is infinitely important. The point of the Universe is at its heart, it's Creator, upon whom everything depends and Of which everything reflects.

    What the Church is teaching today, however, is not personal sin but COMMUNAL; not personal judgement but communal growth toward a higher (evolutionary) state. And Almighty God is rarely mentioned at all, and not with the fear and awe He deserves.

    This fits in with Eastern Mystical understanding that there is no judgmental God, only non-created MATTER; a communal universe heading toward a state of nirvana, nirvana being the ultimate point and not any individual soul. The ultimate destiny of a soul in nirvana is NOT God and eternal union with our Maker, but nothingness; you disappear, subsumed into nirvana. This very much reminds me of first, underlying principles of current Church teaching.

    If you read anything at all about Bhuddism, it matches up much more closely to what our Bishops are currently teaching than the traditional Catholic Faith. I am not surprised those occult books were in Pope JPII's stack. It matches my RCIA experience and explains today's startlingly inexplicable events.

    I, however, remain faithful to the Church ETERNAL. Nothing anyone can do to change THAT!

    1. I get that sense from so much of what passes for Catholic these days. I see at the core of it a lack of belief in an absolute, infinite, all powerful God with absolutely strict standards.

  2. You know all that 'throwing stones' at faithful Catholics and wrongly calling them 'neo-pelagians'...well, isn't that what is happening with this 'pastoral' direction of the 'internal forum'? We no longer need to be in a state of grace or need grace, God's help and Life within us, because we can slowly 'evolve', right? I am not a bear but that surely smells like heresy to me.

  3. Evolution definitely plays into it, but it's more complicated. Another part of the puzzle is a return of the heresy of Joachim of Fiore (we are now living in the age of the Holy Spirit") re-inforced by Pentacostalism.

    Another part is that we have so many man made distractions and individualism that it's easy to forget the glories of God and our common man. Globalization makes us aware that most of the world doesn't think like us and there are many good people that never heard of Catholicism, so God won't abandon them, right? "And if they have mercy, why can't we?" Finally, we've mastered the art of "the flight into abstraction" so it's impossible to know what anyone with this affliction is really saying.

    Together, they form a universal solvent more potent than even modernism. Evolution and Pentacostalism attack us when we are zealous for the faith. Everything is fluid. God is a God of surprises who "tries new things in new ages". TLM and "Trentian morality" was okay for that time, but we live in a new age and we need to "follow the Spirit where it leads" and anyone who doesn't is an "Unreconstructed Ossified Manualists" that is "bound for Hell" (which we have a reasonable hope is empty because the irresistible grace of the Spirit, unless you're a "Unreconstructed Ossified Manualists" of course since you've closed yourself to grace). So we can "do what is right in our own eyes" (Genesis 3:6; Judges 21:25) since we are lead by the spirit (Genesis 3:1, John 13:27).

    The remaining factors help anaesthetize us to God's grace and even to an awareness of God.

    IMO, short of getting a long series of strong orthodox Popes who speak clearly and plainly, the only way to save the Church and the world is for there to be a world catastrophe which makes the anaesthesia be ineffective and make us disillusioned that things can change. Only then will we cry out for God again.

    1. One of the Catholic prophesies says that the era of peace will come in and people will come back to God when they realize how bitter it is to live without God (paraphrasing)

    2. Yes, I've heard that too.

      This is indeed a great clarifying moment. There is so much negative these days, but I tend to fall back on that hope. Our Good Shepherd is separating the sheep from the goats. And this is what that feels like in real life.

  4. Bear,

    If you want to flesh it out some more, you'll find hints in Laudato Si. Mixed in as well is the process theology and pantheism.

    83. The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things.[53] Here we can add yet another argument for rejecting every tyrannical and irresponsible domination of human beings over other creatures. The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator.

    Footnote [53] Against this horizon we can set the contribution of Fr Teilhard de Chardin; cf. PAUL VI, Address in a Chemical and Pharmaceutical Plant (24 February 1966): Insegnamenti 4 (1966), 992-993; JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the Reverend George Coyne (1 June 1988): Insegnamenti 11/2 (1988), 1715; BENEDICT XVI, Homily for the Celebration of Vespers in Aosta (24 July 2009): Insegnamenti 5/2 (2009), 60.

    From Benedict's letter:
    "The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host."

  5. Excellent comments, no less than the Bear would expect from his readers.

    The Bear is going to stick with the historical source of heresies in the Church, which is planted squarely in the West. For example, there is a thread in esoteric Christianity that the Age of Peter would be succeeded by the Age of John, "who laid his head upon Jesus' breast," i.e. heard His beating heart. In other words, get rid of hierarchy and rules, and open the Church up to love. If that isn't what Francis is pushing as "pastoral discernment" and "accompaniment," the Bear doesn't know what is. The only question is if this is being done consciously, or is an unknowing reprise of historical episodes.

    Most people are sensible enough to know nothing about the Western Mystery Tradition. But it pokes through the surface like the tip of an iceberg in things like Masonry, Qabbalism (remember Madonna?), occultism, and lodges like the OTO. (If you search this ephemeris, you will find a story about a pope whose election was vetoed by Emperor Franz Joseph I because of suspicions he belonged to the OTO, which, to make the story even more interesting, practices "sex magick.")

    And, of course, the occasional serious recondite work like Meditations on the Tarot of which the Bear has written, and which seems more sinister every time he thinks about it.

    The seed ideas are in the ancient West. We've seen them before. Pope Innocent III called a crusade against the Albigensians. The Church has been so neglected that they are germinating afresh and growing, right in our day. There's not much water in Hell, but the Devil uses what there is to water heresy.

    We all know something's wrong. The Bear is bold enough (and old enough) to say what it is. Call it Freemasonry, Gnosticism Lite, Paganism, or whatever you want, but in truth it is the root and leaf of the ancient ur-heresy of the West, that enticed no less than St. Augustine before he was baptized. God save us from the fruit, which will be heresy under the noonday sun.

  6. This is like "A course in Miracles". New Age Movement type stuff... no sin, just 'choices'; and, of course, no hell, either. So this is the post-V2 version for Catholics, perhaps.... "A course in Miracles thru Evolution" sponsored by Teilhard de Chardin!

    1. Another good observation. ACIM was huge. The Bear remembers a client in prison who was going through the workbook. The New Age movement is a grab bag of ancient philosophy, heresy, psychobabble, Western Mystery Tradition, Eastern religions and outright fraud. That pretty much describes FrancisChurch.

  7. utubeo -- exactly, very, very good, and very scary, catch. The idea of the evolutionary journey back to The One (usually over many incarnations) is a prime tenet of the Western Mystery Tradition. As one well-known group puts it, "Filled with understanding of that perfect law, I am guided, moment by moment, along the path of liberation." This is exactly why Tomberg departs from arguable orthodoxy to speak of reincarnation. (He says the Church decided not to teach it, not because it was not true, but because it was not safe.) That is pure gnosticism, although in our day it manifests alongside pantheism and hedonism.

    The Bear wasn't aware that Francis had quoted Teilhard de Chardin! Where is the Index of Forbidden Books when you need it? Things are even worse than the Bear thought.

  8. P.S. there is also the "fundamental option" theology that was condemned by Pope St. John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor. It's not our actual sins that matter, but our overall orientation toward God. Pope Francis is serving up "fundamental option" on toast.

    1. From Veritatis Splendor:
      “It would be a very serious error to conclude... that the Church's teaching is essentially only an ‘ideal’ which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a “balancing of the goods in question.” Christ has redeemed us setting us freedom free from the domination of concupiscence, and if redeemed man still sins, it is due to man's will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act.

      Just another point and JPII says it is a "serious error" to claim it is only an ideal. So I would not say "the Church" is moving toward an evolutionary view of sin but some men in the Church no doubt seem to be.

  9. Where have you been Bear?

    Here is a link to an article written some time ago (no date on it but it looks like it was typed on a typewriter)by F. Albers, PH.B entitled: "The Teilhardian Church."

  10. Hipster Bear knew about Teilhard de Chardin before he was cool.

    Unless you actually want to know where the Bear has been. Well, alright. The Bear was born in a small cave in what is now Bavaria...

  11. The Teilhard quote cited was actually from Benedict. JPII also quoted him. However, these are readings that are perfectly orthodox, meaning that man brings all creation with him into his salvation by Christ. It doesn't happen automatically; human beings must be saved in Christ (that is, through belief in Christ and his Church, and not passively and automatically saved, as Francis seems to see it) and then creation participates in this through those who are the Body of Christ.

    Teilhard probably started with a theory like this and then went completely into outer space, being a well-off, independent and undisciplined Jesuit surrounded by wealthy female groupies who admired his every musing. But he did say some things that could bear an orthodox interpretation.

    What Francis or, actually, Fernandez and Spadaro did in this was to half quote or selectively use "edited" quotes of orthodox authors to imply that all these people were in reality just laying the ground work for the New Church of Francis. They weren't and I'm sure they'd be horrified (I wonder how much Benedict is allowed to know about this). But Francis and the people behind him are very duplicitous and will twist anyone's words to suit their objectives.

    1. >The Teilhard quote cited was actually from Benedict.

      Yes, Elizabeth, I know. Thus the heading "From Benedict's Letter". The point is that Chardin's influence is well entrenched. While as you say, "But he did say some things that could bear an orthodox interpretation.", why quote someone that is so problematic? Of all the solid theologians in the history of the Church, why quote from Chardin at all? And then to explain it was his "great vision" as if Chardin's ultimate vision was orthodox? For Benedict to quote him, even in what could be "interpreted" in an orthodox manner, it legitimizes Chardin to the unsuspecting and can lead people to want to read more of Chardin and fall victim to the rest of his crap.

  12. It's frankly astounding to me that Tielhard could make his way into any papal writing in any way, shape or form, save by way of formal condemnation.

    His work is poison, and there's a reason why he ran into so many censures from the Holy Office.

    1. I quite agree. Why would JP2 or Benedict use even the better part of de Chardin's writings since much of his work was considered heretical? I can tell you why. They used it because it was a stealthy way to make the rest of his work acceptable.

      Seattle Kim

    2. Agreed. Which is what makes the Bear wonder if all these things are unrelated data or a trend or even conspiracy that finds expression no matter who the pope is, "conservative" or "liberal."

  13. Insurance underwriters use the term "moral hazard" when gambling that you won't suffer the misfortune that one is insuring against. It means that the insurer doesn't want to add to the risk of the gamble by introducing an inducement to the contract. For instance, covering a car for more than it's worth may cause some to drive more recklessly and be rewarded for it. Likewise, welfare payouts may induce people to sit at home and watch TV instead of simply providing a safety net. Francis and his ilk are introducing a moral hazard to the Church and I suppose have been for some time. They are actually, in a most unholy way, inducing sinners to sin more. I hope that they are merely the unwitting dupes of Lucifer and not active conspirators but that seems unlikely given their large numbers. We need a Year of Reparations, not a year of phony mercy.

    1. "We need a Year of Reparations, not a year of phony mercy. "

      I concur that we need a Year of Reparation.

      However, in spite of whatever the intent Francis may have had in declaring a Year of Mercy--and particularly the indulgence that comes with it--don't look a gift indulgence in the mouth. Even Fellay instructed the laity attached to the SSPX in this manner.

      Take advantage of it. I find it more than a coincidence that it occurs in the penultimate year prior to the 100th anniversary of Fatima. Things could get interesting next year.

  14. James Larson's articles on the War against Being are must readings for the remnant community.

    Prayerful meditation on these articles will allow us to fully grasp the nature of the philosophical/theological battle that was waged within the Church over the past several centuries.

    Once grasped, everything we see unfolding in Rome will make perfect sense! We (or our children/grandchildren) will also be equipped to rebuild from the ashes.

    1. That appears to be an excellent resource.

      Could you explain who James Larson is? Before I start it would be nice for perspective to know his background and qualification.

    2. Second the motion. He's a favorite in some circles, but I've never read it.


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